“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”

Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution

Slush Puppies

Greeting from Slurpyland, friends.
No. Seriously.


To walk through the farm, you would think that a giant
Slurpee machine emptied it's entire contents on our ground.
We have several inches of mush.
And when that mush is gone, there will be several inches of mud in its place.


It's that time of year... things are starting to warm up just a tad...
just enough to jumpstart the melt and thaw process.


It was a quiet weekend on the farm.
We awoke to this on Saturday...


And with lots of rain in the forecast, we took our weekend hike
with the dogs on Saturday morning.


We hiked over to the tent in the woods.  


It was an effort to tire out the dogs in order to avoid cabin fever.


Apparently, where Sam is concerned, we were successful!

Rain and fog greeted us on Sunday.
And slush... lots of slush.


The sheep are beginning to look un-loved.


I assure you, they are quite loved,
but they look like urchins (fat urchins).


Winter has really taken a toll on their fleeces...
which, by the way are so thick that my fingers disappear up to the second knuckle.


I took full advantage of the inclement weather this weekend and tackled the
sewing room re-do.
With Hubbs' help, we painted the walls.
What once looked like this... (with a...

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The Beauty of Ice

We awoke yesterday to a glistening world...


the result of the previous day's ice storm.


A layer of ice covered every surface...


made even more beautiful by the rising sun.


Even though the world is covered by a thick frozen blanket,



I know that Spring lies just below the surface of the ground...
waiting to burst forth!


It won't be too very long until we begin to see the early signs of her arrival.
And with that arrival comes a brand new world...
fresh and colorful and full of possibilities.



Oh, what fun we are going to have in the coming months...
so many projects!!

So, for now, I will make the most of inside projects.
In my quest to downsize my belongings,
I have vowed to use up my apron fabric stash.
I am planning a sewing room re-do...


and cleaning out is step number one!

Yesterday's apron was this one...


Just looking at this fabric has made me very eager to get back out to my garden.



Of course, in any given day,
the most important task is this one...

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Another Wintry Mix

Another wintry mix of snow and freezing rain kept us inside
most of yesterday.


Of course, there are the required visits to the animals


for feeding, watering and such.


And honestly, it is quite nice to get outside and enjoy the snow.


It is also nice to hunker down inside, in front of a warm fire
and have some quiet time.


I made English Muffins yesterday morning, with the sourdough
starter that I had received at the beginning of the week.
After feeding it every 8 hours for two days, it was bubbly and ready to use.
I fed it one last time... which gives a significant amount of discarded starter.
(you only use a half cup... which you then feed with flour and water...
and discard (or use) the rest.)
With the discard, I had mixed up a batch of muffins and refrigerated it for a little over 24 hours.

Then yesterday morning, before morning chores,
I cut the muffins out and let them rise while we were outside...


Once back in the house, I cooked them on the griddle...
several minutes on each side until they reached 190 degrees on the inside.


I had to eat one right off the griddle...


Delicious!
I might never buy them again... but rather, make my own.

Snowy days make for the best bird watching.


With feeders...

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Walks On The Wild Side

During recent trips to the woods,
we took the opportunity to gather the camera cards from the game cameras.


It's great fun to see what happens in our woods
when we are not there.


We have a huge herd of deer for sure...
making deer photos the bulk of what we collect.


But there are often other critters of interest to be seen.
Of course, at this time of year there are no bear,
but there are....


Foxes...


Raccoons...


Skunks...


Turkeys...


And although this photo isn't clear... it is interesting to see that we 
caught a great horned owl as it flew by,
(ever so silently as they do)...
As you can see... it was moving quite fast... the glow from it's eye a luminous blur.


It's amazing the amount of life out there that goes almost
undetected.
Game cameras can open up a whole world...
especially a world of nighttime activity.

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Between Snowstorms

After Sunday's snowstorm and subsequent ice storm,
the sun rose yesterday morning on a beautiful white world.


We only had 4 inches of snow, with an icy crust on top of it...
but I suspect it will be here to stay for a while.
Temperatures are to remain cold (sub-freezing) this week, with 5 to 8 more inches of snow
coming tomorrow.


I encourage the horses to spend time out in the pasture...
even though there is no available grass right now.


I spread piles of hay for them to eat and they spend their hours
chasing each other away from said hay.
Eventually, it all gets eaten and in the process the horses get some exercise 
and a change of scenery.


Winters get long and boring for the animals,
unless we humans make it a little more interesting for them.


Liberal portions of treats certainly help!


I made a quick trip to the feed store yesterday afternoon for goat feed.


On the way I took a few photos.
Winter gives you a better idea of our terrain.
(There's hardly a flat piece of land to be found here in the hills.)


And there's nothing like a clear day for some wintry pictures.


Upon my return home, there was a package awaiting me...
my King Arthur Flour sourdough starter.


I immediately fed the starter and...

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A Super Weekend

It's hard to believe that only two days have passed since my last post.
What a busy weekend we had!
And what a difference there was between Saturday and Sunday.
(like night and day!)


After we finished afternoon chores,
we picked up Tyler on Friday... then picked up some "take-out" pizza
and went to visit our other "littles" Mackenzie and Easton.

It was great to get the three cousins together for an evening of fun.
Mack and her daddy made cookies for dessert (or "pessert" as she calls it.)
(The hair-do was all her own doing... she's a very independent 2-year-old!


And while Easton and I were smothering each other in baby kisses,


Tyler re-organized Mackenzie's playroom.
He's an amazingly thoughtful seven year old.

Saturday was a beautiful sunny day...


spent on the farm.


We took Donnie Brasco for a hike in the woods with the boys and the dogs.


We sometimes will take one of the horses along with us... 


giving them something new and different to do.


While Tyler was off having an adventure with his buddy Jace (Dr. Becky's stepson)...
the dogs and I spent an hour cleaning the front pasture.


Chester seems to be completely healed from his surgery.


He was a hard one to hold back from his high level of...

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From the Archive...

Hubbs has been spending some time cleaning out his home office drawers.
Fully in the swing of retirement, he is purging that which he will never need again.
He came across a folder of things that I had written for him over the years,
and suggested that I publish one of them here... on the blog.
So, here goes...


We all have our favorite artists...
Monet, Degas, Cezzanne, and oh, so many more.
The artists that stir my soul are the Ancients.
They have taken the names Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter.
The land is their canvas,
and their palettes are as varied as their natures.

Spring draws her foundation with detail and precision,
then paints with a delicate touch in pale shades of watercolor pastel.
In time, she fills every space with soft strokes of animation.


Summer steps in with her bold and brightly saturated oils,
adding depth and vibrance to Spring's sketch.
She paints with enthusiasm, adding color on color until
she has filled the entire canvas with rapturous intensity.


Autumn arrives, almost un-noticed, with a pencil box of yellow, reds, and browns.
He slowly scrapes away the colors left behind by summer
and in their place leaves his crunchy hues of earthy warmth.


Winter sketches with grubby...

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Surprises

No two days are ever the same around here.
And although yesterday was sunny and beautiful like the day that preceded it...
instead of starting with a snow storm,
it started like this:


How can a day that starts off this way be anything but perfect!


The snow remains... the temperatures have plummeted again.
I am so happy that cold does not bother me.
That way I can love all four seasons equally!


I received some little gifts yesterday and the day before...
and I thought you might enjoy my sharing them with you...


Hubbs says that guinea eggs are the perfect size to put atop an English Muffin.
Looks like I had better get that new sourdough started so that I can make
some English Muffins.
If you've never made English muffins... they are quite fun to make.
We'll explore that on another day.
(And thank you for all of your sourdough suggestions... I am not giving up on this endeavor!)

I made a quick video of my kitchen to share with you.
If you are like me, it's always fun to see a little more of the inside of people's homes...
especially our blogging friends.


So, there it is... the scene of many culinary crimes...
and many delights as well!

Happy February, friends... the month of love... and more!

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The Magic of Snow

There's nothing like a new snowfall to rejuvenate the farm.
We were beginning to look a little muddy and worn until yesterday's
light snow gave us a winter face-lift.


It snowed like a blizzard for a few hours in the morning, and then the sky cleared...
and the sun came out.
And just like that everything became lustrous and beautiful.


I was away from the farm for part of the morning and early afternoon...
and so I missed doing the chores.


On my arrival home, I headed out to visit with my friends.


Everyone was out enjoying the sunshine.


The horses were napping in the dry lot after having spent the morning out
playing in the snow.


Sometimes the light is perfect...


The sky was a beautiful blue...


like this handsome boy's eyes!


I sat on the ground while each of them took turns nuzzling me
and lining up for nose kisses.


My fair weather gals stayed inside their shed...
after all, the wind might muss up their thick, lush winter coats!


After leaving the barn, I headed up to visit with the goats


Everyone loves a sunny day!


And some just love to pose for a photo!


My last stop was the pig yard...
where treats were handed out, of course!


All totaled, it looks as though we only got about 2 to 3 inches of snow.
It...

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Chester's Big Day

Today is a big day for Chester...
and one I am sure he'd rather miss.
Yes, Chester is having a little surgery today...
it will be the first step towards a life without testosterone.


I hate taking him for his procedure and leaving him there...
I am sure he will feel abandoned.
He will get to come back home, however, at the end of the day, so...
all will soon be right in his world.


Spaying and neutering our dogs and cats is something to which we are
committed.
There are way too many unwanted dogs and cats in this world.

Yesterday and today took me away from the farm...
caring for sick "littles" (of the human variety).


But, I will be back tomorrow with stories of our four-legged friends...


and an update on Chester.
And... an update on the snow that is falling!

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Weekend Moments

It was a productive weekend here on the farm.
We took our last hay delivery for the winter...


lovely green grass hay.

We now have plenty of hay stowed away and are ready to face
just about anything that Mother Nature might throw our way.

As you can see... hay bales represent a new playground for the dogs.


They had a blast chasing each other around the pile of hay

It seems that for the time being, the freezing cold has left us.
We enjoyed a sunny 55 degree afternoon on Saturday.
I took a trip to the feed store and stocked up on horse feed, duck feed, chicken feed and scratch.
This is what happens when the turkeys see themselves in the shiny bumper of the truck...


Rain moved in on Saturday night making Sunday grey and damp.


No matter the weather, though, life (and play) goes on!


It seems that Chester has become the consummate photo-bomber:



And last... a little glimpse into daily snack times...


Look who is quite comfortable with the pigs...


Those who love me know that my kryptonite is glazed donuts.
We are lucky(?) to have several Amish bakeries in the area that make the best glazed yeast donuts.
Fridays are donut day... and I usually always resist the temptation to take the
drive through the...

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Sheep-keeping and Tea Parties

My poor sheep have lived the last two months on filthy,
worn down paths through frozen slush and snow.


There is no reason for them to venture an further than that,
unfortunately, with all of the snow on the ground.


They spend their days between the hay feeder and their little houses.


Ordinarily I clean out their houses each morning.
Sheep have a nasty habit of pooping where they sleep.
Quite often they urinate at the same time as well.
As you can imagine, this makes for quite a mess inside their houses.


Daily cleaning keeps things manageable,
but when the snow and freezing rains come clean-up becomes
next to impossible.


And so... for weeks during the wintertime, the mess just accumulates.

Once spring arrives, their yard will undergo a major clean-up.
I couldn't stand their messy houses any longer,
so yesterday I got the scraper and the pitchfork out and got busy cleaning.


I removed several muck buckets full of soiled bedding
and replaced it with clean dry straw.

Life will be so much easier when things dry out...
but that won't be for another month or more.

When I arrived at the barn yesterday, I realized that I had forgotten to don my ice cleats.
Although muck boots are very warm and water proof,...

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The Pecking Order

I was searching for Milford the other day.


The oldest of my roosters, was no where to be found in the chicken yard.

You might remember Milford, our cream colored "Red Star" rooster...
who owns the biggest set of spurs on any rooster ever!
We're talking Guinness Book of World Record sized spurs.


He came to live on the farm 5 years ago when a batch of chicks
had a surprise listed on the shipping manifest.
It read, "5 Red Star roosters added for warmth."


Enter Milford, Milton, Milroy, Millard and George.
Over the years, they all met their demise one way or another...
except Milford.

I looked high and low, and finally found the old boy in the local coffee shop...
the run in shed that we use as extra shelter in the goat yard.
He was there with a bevy of hens just chatting it up and gossiping,
as hens (and some roosters) are prone to do.


I couldn't help but notice that Milford had a little dried blood on his chest.
Sadly, roosters are very confrontational with each other and Old Milford is
definitely at the bottom of the pecking order.


I am sure he had a run-in with this fellow...


"Fish" is the last remaining leghorn rooster who came to live on the farm a couple of summers ago...
gifted to us by our...

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Wandering Home

I love home.
I have laid down very deep roots in this place.


This is where I feel complete and at peace.


And yet, there's a bit of gypsy soul that rustles down deep and makes
my soul long to investigate new places.

I love to wander... as long as the road leads back home at the end of the day...
back to my loves.


Most days a hike with the dogs satisfies my urge for adventure.
That's the thing about where I live.
There is so much to see, so much to investigate.
The land changes from week to week.


No two hikes are ever the same.
Each time I step out into nature I see something new and remarkable.

Mother Nature inspires me


and fills me with awe.
It amazes me that in the middle of winter, when everything seems brown or grey...
this lives on the forest floor...
brilliant green... 
buzzing with the energy of a sunny day...
 in an otherwise damp, hazy, cloud-covered world.


Nature just seems to reach out and draw me in...
the smallest things seem nothing short of miraculous.
Like this perfect, tiny 3 inch nest constructed entirely of horse hair...
having blown to the ground during a winter wind storm.


I am so lucky to have had a lifetime to enjoy this world...
and with a little more luck...many years left to...

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A Hazy Shade of Winter

(Thanks Diane for the title idea!)
(And many thanks to Simon and Garfunkel for those lyrics.)
"Look around... leaves of brown... and the sky... is a hazy shade of winter."


I wish I had written the words, but I will just have to be satisfied 
illustrating them instead.


As you can see, our snow is almost gone.
50 degree weather will do that!


After the melting of each snowfall, comes a massive manure clean up.
That which was buried beneath clean white snow
suddenly surfaces.


Our neighbor, Kathy, came over yesterday morning to help with barn chores.
Rain was predicted for the day, but since it had not yet started,
we decided to seize the opportunity to clean the pasture.


It was impossible to drive the gator through the wet, slippery snow in the front pasture last week,
so there was a bit of an accumulation to be dealt with.
We covered every inch of the pasture... filling the back of the gator 
with manure.

I had a talk with the horses and implored them to keep the pasture clean for the rest of the morning.


Of course, they ignored me...
they had more pressing issues on their minds.


Eat, eat, eat...


Eat, eat, eat...


totally oblivious to the gastro-colic reflex that would inevitably result in 
another...

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As The Snow Melts...

It's grey and somewhat foggy out...
the result of warmer temps and melting snow adding moisture to the atmosphere.
It's that time of year that some describe as gloomy.
To me, grey days are peaceful, restful and perfect for indoor pursuits.
I love a grey day!


It was a quiet weekend here at the farm.
Hubbs drove north to snow country to visit with his parents for the weekend,
while I stayed home to tend the farm.
Amanda, who had stayed at the farm last week to help out,
remained here until Sunday.


Although I enjoy the solitude of chores, it is nice to have another set of hands...
especially during the winter times.
Winter chores are always complicated by ice.
Manure freezes and becomes harder to dislodge making the daily clean-up take longer.


In order to give the dogs the exercise that they crave, we took a hike through the woods.


Sid was in the pasture as we walked up the hill towards the woods,
so we stopped for a little chat.


I love photographing Sid... he knows how to work it for the camera!


Then onward to the woods we hiked.
Every time I set foot in our woods, I see something of interest.
This time it was a patch of these tiny (3 inch) fir trees growing amidst the snow...
the snow dotted with...

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Porcine Snowplows

No matter the weather, these two porcine snowplows find their way to the
treat box as soon as they hear the sound of the gator.


They are there each morning as we head to the barn for chores.


We'd feel guilty if we didn't stop and give them a couple Ritz crackers...
even though these two are completely spoiled rotten!


When there's snow on the ground, the pigs remain in their stall for most of the day.
There, they have fresh hay delivered as well as "meals on wheels"...
maid service is provided twice daily as well.
(We should all be so lucky!)

The only tracks in their yards are the ones leading away from their stall door...


towards the treat bin...


I try to spend a little time each day doling out 
liberal helpings of affection to accompany their treats.


Life can get a little boring for these girls at this time of year.
Once the snow has melted, they will once again have time in the front pasture.


For now, however, we humans remain their diversion.

I spent a couple hours weaving yesterday and have completed the first 14 inches of
this piece.


It's hard to show you my progress, however, as the finished end keeps getting
wound around the bottom bar.


At this rate, it should be finished in about a week or...

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My World

This is what I woke up to this morning...


absolute breathtaking winter beauty!


Freshly fallen snow...


about 5 inches.


Makes the world look magical.


Sunlight streams through snow tinged branches...


sparkling, silent.
Once the sun hits those branches, the snow will drop to the ground.


It was great to be out early and see the magic at its best!


Everyone was out to greet us... eager for their breakfast and their morning treats.


The sheep were encrusted with snow,
but with their thick fleeces don't even feel it.


The garden is asleep beneath it's wintry blanket...


Everyone, except for the chickens, turkeys, and guineas seems to enjoy the fresh snow.
The birds prefer to remain inside where it is warm and dry.


After chores, I spent a few hours working on a weaving project.

I finished warping the loom.


And evened out the warp. 
All I needed now was to fill my shuttles with the yarn that I would use for the weft.


I filled the shuttles with the yarn as I unwound a skein of alpaca fiber.


The shuttle is used to work the weft between the layers of warp.
The weft is the yarn that is perpendicular to the warp.
The warp is passed through the rigid heddle reed which is placed in one of two
different positions,...

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Back To The Barn

After spending two days in the house,
I felt the need to get out and visit my friends.


It was close-up time yesterday afternoon...
time for feeding and watering and the last clean-up of the day.


It had snowed for most of the day,
and was absolutely breathtaking outside.


I had so needed to feel the peace that the farm brings to my soul,
and my trip out to the barn did just that.


A fresh covering of snow makes the world practically silent.
Silence... except for a distant "who-whoooo" of a great horned owl in the woods.
Ahhh...my heart felt like it had just come home again.

Amanda and I finished the chores and headed home in the gator...
marveling at how beautiful snow makes the farm look.


I am just itching to get onto my cross country skis...
but that will have to wait for now.
For now I will have to be satisfied to just get back out to the barn.
Life is good!

Once back in the house, I headed upstairs to my sewing room in the loft...


 to start a new project.
I am warping my loom to begin a new weaving project.


I am going to weave a warm wool wrap... a little something to throw
around my shoulders when sitting in front of the fire on snowy days such as this.


Outside the window,
birds were busily...

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And The Winner Is...

Weeks ago, we swabbed Chester's mouth...
scraping a few cheek cells...
and sent the specimen off to Cornell for DNA testing.


And then we waited...
patiently...
taking bets on what the final results would show.


By looks, we figured he had Australian cattle dog in him...
and most likely some sort of terrier, we thought.


The results arrived this weeks and we have learned much about our
amazing little Chester!


First of all... and we were glad to hear this...
he has no genetic markers for any genetic diseases.
They estimated that his lifespan should be about 15 years,
and that he should get no bigger than 50 pounds.
(Right now he weighs about 28 pounds at 7 months of age.)

Apparently he has a moderate amount of "wolf-iness" in his genes...
and I am not sure how exactly or even "if" that translates in his personality.  


His pedigree breakdown is as follows:

50.0% Australian Cattle Dog
27.4% Jack Russel Terrier
5.7% German Shepherd
5.1% Golden Retriever
5.0% Collie
6.8% SUPERMUTT!

His new name is Chester the Supermutt!
He definitely lives up to the name!
He is one super mutt!

So... I was a good girl yesterday and stayed in the house.
And yes, there is always plenty to keep me occupied!
(I finished the hat I...

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Flying By The Seats Of Our Pants

After spending a fun-filled weekend with our friends,
we had planned to go  see the Lion King on Broadway today.
(our Christmas present from our kids).
(Emphasis on "planned".)


But, back to the weekend.
Hubbs and I spent all of Friday baking and cooking in preparation for our weekend guests...
cooking ahead made the weekend easy!


We made two loaves of rosemary-olive oil bread, one loaf of brioche,
cranberry-orange scones, a blueberry-gooseberry pie,
lasagne soup, chicken salad, and broccoli salad.
(cooking and baking are ten times easier when you have a sous chef cleaning
up after you as you go... because, let me tell you... when I cook it looks as if
a bomb went off in the kitchen!)

All tolled, there were 8 of us for the weekend and 6 dogs.
Another four joined us for Sunday Farm Breakfast.


Each day we bundled up and took a three mile hike with the dogs...


and visited the animals along the way.


When the sun went down, the games came out.
We played Pictionary, Balderdash and Charades...
and the laughter flowed freely!


The weekend ended with a wild donkey escape,
a fall on the ice (me)
and barn doors that wouldn't open... making feeding time a bit of a free-for-all...
culminating in two donkeys running...

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Turkey Love and More

I can scarcely believe that old Tom turkey is heading towards his ninth birthday.
It was nine years ago that Tom, Chuck, and Edith came to live on the farm
as just hatched turkey babes.


Tom is the only one that remains of those three.
 Fred and Ethel joined us two years ago this coming summer.


All three get along amazingly.
Truth be told, Ethel is the leader of the pack.
She takes no nonsense from either of the boys,
and has wrestled them to the ground on more than one occasion
when they were feeling a little randy.
She'll have none of that!


Turkeys are amazing birds.
They are very social and love being around whatever activity is happening around the farm.
Having a party?
You'll find the turkeys in the midst of everything.

It took years for Tom to allow us to touch him.
Although he never had a problem with touching as long as it was him touching us.
Reach out a hand to pet him and he would quickly hop away.
Things have changed over the years, though.
Tom has mellowed.
Now he tolerates and maybe even enjoys a good head massage.

Our neighbor, Kathy, loves giving Tom some loving...


Tom has learned through the years to ignore his natural instinct about danger.
He has learned that this is a safe place...

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Everything Chester And More...

Yesterday was a perfectly lovely day on the farm
With temperatures finally soaring into the 20's I spent the afternoon outside,
catching up on extra chores that were skipped during the cold blast of the past week.


Chicken manure had built up in the chicken houses from chickens
that didn't want to venture outside, so I stripped their houses and filled them with new 
pine bedding.
Now everyone's house smells piney fresh!


The horses and donkeys spent a good part of the day out in the front pasture.


There is still a bit of snow on the ground,
but getting out and milling about is good for their mental health.


Animals get cabin fever just like we do!


A wintry mix south of us brought Amanda home from work a little early.
She still spends most Monday evenings here on the farm with us.
It was great to have some help with cleaning the front pasture,
and she enjoys the hands-on activity as much as we enjoy having her at home!


We've had no further duck emergencies since last week,
and their swimming hole has gotten smaller from the deep freeze.
It reminds me of a hot tub.


I am happy to report that Chester has become the consummate farm dog.


He has more energy than any dog I have ever known.


And although he is...

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Our Coldest Weekend Yet

While much of the East Coast was dealing with a powerful blizzard,
we were lucky here on the farm.


It was bitter cold and windy, but the skies were clear and without precipitation.


It was a perfectly lovely weekend.  


We burned through lots of hay, keeping the animals safe and warm...
and none of them complained!


A bit of the weekend was spent in front of the fireplace working on a new knitting project.


That is, whenever a chair was available!


I used the indoor time to be as productive as possible 
and worked on things like turning my blog into books.
I had done this through the years, but fell a little behind in the last couple years.


This company... Blog2Print does a great job of compiling blog posts 
into a full color, hard copy book.
It takes three volumes to capture a single farm year, because I post so many photos.
But right now they are 39% off...so it was a good time to finish this project.
It's nice to occasionally sit down with a hard-copy of the blog
and see where we've been through the years.
And, just in case the internet ever disappears, I still have these volumes as photo albums.

I signed up for MasterClass and began a class on cooking by Gordon Ramsay.


There are also classes on...

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This And That

Oh my gosh, it's Friday again!
I am happy to report that we've had no need for further rescues.
All is calm at the moment.


The extension cords from the barn to the chickens, turkeys and goats are doing their job.
Now, lets just hope that the electrical service to the farm remains un-affected
during this winter cyclone that is hitting the east coast.
We are lucky in that we are not getting the snow... just the wind 
and the frigid temperatures.


We are prepared for whatever happens.
We have generators for emergency power if need be.

Chores begin before dawn...making sure that everyone has what they need.


Asside from our routine checks on the animals...


replenishing food and water and assuring everyone's welfare,
we are spending our time indoors doing things on the winter "To Do" list.


I've cleaned and re-organized the pantry.


We've cleaned and re-organized our library.


I've blocked my most recent knitting project.


Now I'll have time to page through the many seed catalogs that find their way
to our mailbox this month...


dreaming of and planning for the warm months ahead (way ahead).

There were some questions in yesterday's comments that I thought I'd answer.

Questions about Ivy and Chester...
After...

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A Daring Rescue

Yesterday's balmy afternoon temperatures (20 degrees) gave us 
the motivation to get out for a walk.
It was time to do some of the afternoon chores, so we headed out on foot with the dogs.

On the way to the barn we stopped to check on the ducks at the pond, 
and found our new little girl, Laverne, with her wing feathers frozen fast to the ice.
She was in obvious distress. 
(Witnessing this, I did not have the presence of mind to snap a photo, of course!)
Hubbs, without even thinking, headed out onto the pond...
crawling on his stomach to more evenly distribute his weight.


He quickly worked his way to the edge of the water
(kept from freezing by an aerator)
and freed Laverne's wing.

She happily jumped right into the water...
obviously relieved.


Hubbs is my hero.
While I was busy thinking of ways to get to the middle of the pond, 
he had already scurried out onto the ice.
What a guy!
He loves our animals as much as I do.


After the excitement, we continued our rounds...
checking on everyone.


The horses and donkeys were happily scratching through the snow for what
vegetation they could find... 


hey had already eaten the hay that we had put
in the front pasture for them.


The chickens were out enjoying the...

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Cold Is Relative

It's funny how "cold" is a relative thing.
In summer when the temperature falls to 60, we grab our sweatshirts,
exclaiming how "cold" it is.


Then when winter comes and the temperature hovers around freezing
and the snows fly, we sit in front of a roaring fire and talk of how "cold" it is outside.
Now?


Now we are beyond cold.
Now... frigid.
The high temperatures have not risen above the teens here on the farm for what seems like
a couple weeks or so.
And colder, sub-zero air is on the way.


It's cold enough that the only time the pigs venture out of their warm house...


is for their Ritz cracker treats as we pass by during chore times.


The sheep rarely use their shelter, but prefer to remain outside in the cold.
They are perfectly adapted for cold weather and are happiest at this time of year.
It's amazing how different these two animals are.


It's during weather such as this that we thank our lucky stars that we have
electricity to all of our out-buildings, 


so we are able to keep all of our animals
comfortable with heat lamps and heated water buckets.


You might imagine how despondent I felt yesterday morning as I made my rounds 
and found that the goat waters had frozen (solid!)
 and that the heat...

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Bed-lam

I am one of those people who pays super-close attention to how my beds are made.
Just ask my family... they are completely intimidated by my bed-making skills.
It's the one thing (my family might say there's more) that I am completely 
obsessive/compulsive about.
Maybe it's the nurse in me... I did, after all, go to nursing school during the years
when it was requisite that a quarter bounce off of the bed you had just made.
No wrinkles allowed... wrinkles caused pressure on delicate skin.
Hospital corners?  No one makes a tighter hospital corner than me.
Bed-making might be my all-time-greatest achievement.
I should have run a Bed and Breakfast.
I'd have nailed that profession!
Sad.
Really... it's sad.


And so, it seems only fitting that nowadays...any time I leave the house...
(with all of the beds neat as a pin, mind you)...
I return to find them all disheveled.
All of them.
All.
A.
Mess!


The above illustration is a mild example of the "bedlam" I have found
upon returning home.

I did a little investigatory work, trying to find the perpetrator.
I intensely interviewed each suspect.


Each of them was tight lipped.


No one would fess-up.


Their stories... airtight.


A conspiracy, perhaps?

Regardless......

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Happy New Year!

Well friends...
this is it.
Today we set off on another adventure around the sun.
We have 365 days full of moments to appreciate and enjoy ahead of us.
Let's make it the very best new year yet!


For those of you who have walked hand in hand with us through the past year...
we hope to continue to bring many smiles to your face in the next one.
I can promise you that we will smile together and cry together...
as we venture through daily life on the farm.
Life is so much richer when we enjoy it together,
isn't it?


I don't thank you often enough for sharing your thoughts and stories through comments.
I cherish each and every one.
And if you never comment... no worries... I know that you are there...
silently sharing our life on this beautiful planet we call home.


Do not be fooled, though...
our lives are not perfect, but perfectly imperfect...
and perfectly real...
just as yours are.


We wish nothing more than for us to all enrich each others lives
by sharing the beauty that is all around us.
May we all accept that we are stewards of this beautiful earth...
and may we strive to leave it better than we found it!
May we walk through this year with kindness in our hearts and positivity on our lips.


And...

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Staying Warm

The littlest bit of snow remains on the ground... with more coming this weekend.
Temperatures are frigid.


There's only one thing to do when it gets this cold:

Eat!


The horses love their pasture time, and with this cold, cold weather,
their time out is extended.
It's hard to put on weight when you are burning calories just to stay warm!
Luckily, all of our equines are good at growing fluffy winter coats, too.


Luckily with the extended warm weather that we had this past autumn,
our pastures are in pretty good shape...plenty of grass left for hungry munchers.


We spent a quiet day indoors... the fireplace keeping us toasty.


I have a confession.
I took down the Christmas trees.
I know it's a little early... but the needles were falling like a summer rainstorm.
I was afraid I would awaken to a completely naked tree one of these mornings.

For some reason the trees we cut this year did not retain their needles.


And so... I bid the Christmas decorations a fond farewell and packed them away for next year.
It feels especially good to do a little deep cleaning and de-cluttering.
Now I feel like I am ready to face a new year with a clean slate!


Also... instead of having to stow decorations this weekend while...

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